It’s almost the end of May which means graduation season is almost here. For High school students, this period can be very nerve-wrecking. Not only do students want to make sure their grades are suitable to hit the pass mark but also the realities of adulthood and making big decisions is creeping up fast.
I was a custodian of Child and Family Services during my final year of high school. The school guardian councilors were not much of a help to me, and so my anxiety was way off the roof. I watched as my friends from stable homes talked about their plans post-graduation. Some will be backpacking to Europe while others will be attending their dream universities and colleges. Others chose to take some time off to find work while they sort out their future. Others didn’t know what they will do with their free time.
I remember when I was young and people will ask me “Francess, what will you be when you grow up?” Back then I knew it well. I was very sure of what my future will be. From grade one through six I was going to be a school teacher. Before high school, I was going to be a lawyer. But am not sure what happened during high school, but somehow I got lost. Some of the things that I taught I was good at, did not reflect the grades I received. Even though I excel academically, I still could not find that straight-cut, future career goal. I tried other courses like video production, music, dance and arts and I became even more confused. And then I concluded that being an artist would not give me the financial stability that I needed. Somehow throughout that whole confusion and listening to the narratives of some of the people in my community, I enrolled in a university for a bachelor in science. I was going to be either a nurse, a doctor or somewhere in the health field. As a Black person the most popular career choices are usually lawyers, doctors, nurses, and teachers. I felt safe with my career choice.
I dropped out of university after my first year. The only course I passed was medieval poetry. I did not fail because I was a dumb student, I failed because I was not interested in science. It took me about 6 more years after dropping out of university and changing career paths twice before realizing my own strengths. I am a writer. I am a storyteller. I enjoy words. Communication through words is my comfort zone. I now have a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations Management, and I am also a social entrepreneur.
What I want to communicate with high school students is that I understand your frustration and confusion around the peak of graduation. Everyone is looking at you with high expectations. You want to make your parent proud. You have signed up for the best university or college that they want you to attend. Your career will either follow their footsteps or something much better. My greatest advice is for you to cancel all the voices in your head and listen to your own. It sounds like a cliche, but it is the truth. Think about the things that you are good at. What do you do effortlessly well? When you are bored or sad what would you do that will give you some sort of personal gratification? I have always kept a diary. Writing my feelings on a piece of paper was my safe haven. I wrote lots of poems when am heartbroken. I wrote my own songs when am feeling happy. I feel like I daydream more than most people. I mean I usually come up with compelling stories that I will replay in my head. The point I am trying to make is that you should start paying attention to yourself and start noticing your skills.
Your next step is to find a career along that path. It is paramount that people realize that doing what you enjoy make life less stressful. If you are passionate about food, look for a career as a chef. If you enjoy drawing, look for a job as a designer. If there is no clear career for what you enjoy, create your own. Our society is changing. A creative mind is what brings innovative technology like Apple, or platforms like YouTube and Facebook. You will not have all the answers about your future after Highschool, and that is ok. Find internship programs, volunteer, and travel. Sometimes the answers we seek might not be where we are looking.
Congratulations to all 2018 graduates.